Maybe I'm wrong but I suspect that, when it comes to The Designer's Republic, you may be either a lover or a hater. Perhaps you either embrace their self-indulgent creativity or repel against the pomposity of it all. What's the big idea? You could ask.
Al gave me this album the other week. Not a particlular fan of the artist, he lifted the sleeve just because of its cover. And snapped it up after realising its creators.
I'll be frank: I don't fall into the first TDR camp; I'm not a lover. But…now time has passed and their impact has proliferated; and as I've grown as a designer and come to understand the importance of the agitators on the business of graphic design as a whole; I can see this kind of work in a different light.
If you were to scrutinise this album sleeve you'd discover all sorts of self-indulgencies that have very little to do with the musician's work inside: Pantone references, units of measure, holes that interact with what lies beneath. You might say, distrations. Flagrant disrespect for the true purpose of the album sleeve which surely should reflect the musician's artistry, not the graphic designer's.
And yet I can't help feel the celebration of the sleeve as an artefact, especially now we're so many years on (this album was released in 1999) and the format has become a thing of the past*, makes for an exciting experience. I think, had I picked this sleeve up forteen years ago, it might have annoyed me; seeing it now it just makes me smile. It's of a time. It's more like art now, which is perhaps how it was always intended to be.
* I say this because although vinyl is, obviously, still made and sleeve art still laboured, the format's place in the world has changed.